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April 14, 2015 2

New ISIS Videos Threaten U.S. Amid Increase In Domestic Plots

Image promoting new ISIS video

Image pro­mot­ing new ISIS video

Two new videos released this week by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demon­strate a ramp­ing up of threats against the U.S. as ter­ror groups increas­ingly call for home­grown attacks against West­ern coun­tries – and as indi­vid­u­als increas­ingly appear to be heed­ing those calls.

Recent arrests of U.S. res­i­dents plan­ning domes­tic attacks in ISIS’s name indi­cates that such calls for vio­lence can have an impact on Amer­i­cans moti­vated by Islamic extrem­ism and the pro­pa­ganda they find online dis­trib­uted by ISIS and other ter­ror groups.

There have been five alleged instances of domes­tic plots in the U.S. in 2015, rang­ing from con­ver­sa­tions about the pos­si­bil­ity of attack to actual attempted attacks. All were report­edly planned by indi­vid­u­als claim­ing alle­giance to ISIS.

  • Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell of Ohio, arrested in Jan­u­ary for his alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad.
  • Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov of New York, arrested in Feb­ru­ary and charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror. Court doc­u­ments state they were attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack.
  • Hasan and Jonas Edmonds of Illi­nois, arrested in March and charged with attempt­ing to join ISIS and plot­ting an attack against a mil­i­tary base.
  • Noelle Velentzas and Asia Sid­diqui of New York, arrested in April for allegedly pur­chas­ing bomb-making equip­ment with plans for an attack.
  • John T. Booker and Alexan­der Blair of Kansas, arrested in April for allegedly attempt­ing to under­take a sui­cide attack at the Ft. Riley mil­i­tary base.

These are among the 23 U.S. res­i­dents arrested on ter­ror charges thus far in 2015, all but two of whom claimed alle­giance to ISIS.

Both of the videos released this week fea­ture ref­er­ences to pre­vi­ous ter­ror attacks in West­ern coun­tries and footage of bru­tal exe­cu­tions of ISIS vic­tims in Iraq and Syria, as well as encour­age­ment of individually-directed domes­tic plots.

One of the videos, released on April 10, was titled “We Will Burn Amer­ica.” It fea­tured footage and praise of the Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Cen­ter along with nar­ra­tion in Ara­bic with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles stat­ing, “Sep­tem­ber 11 will be repeated.”

The video also fea­tures images from the attack on the Paris kosher super­mar­ket and shoot­ings in Canada, both of which were under­taken by indi­vid­u­als act­ing in ISIS’s name, as well as images of behead­ings by ISIS. Its style was rem­i­nis­cent of ISIS’s feature-film-length pro­pa­ganda video “Flames of War,” which was shot to resem­ble an action movie and high­lights the group’s ide­o­log­i­cal claims of a bat­tle between good and evil, Islam and the West.

“We Will Burn Amer­ica” was released on Twit­ter with the hash­tag #we_will_burn_america. ISIS reg­u­larly encour­ages its sup­port­ers to par­tic­i­pate in hash­tag cam­paigns designed to arti­fi­cially cre­ate trend­ing items and spread the group’s pro­pa­ganda. Last sum­mer, the group under­took two hash­tag cam­paigns sim­i­larly threat­en­ing the U.S., with the hash­tags #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS and #AMes­sage­FromI­SIS­ToUS.

The sec­ond video, released April 14, takes the form of a music video encour­ag­ing lone-wolf attacks and threat­en­ing West­ern coun­tries. The lan­guage is Ger­man, with Eng­lish sub­ti­tles. ISIS has released mul­ti­ple music videos to appeal to young audi­ences while con­vey­ing the group’s messages.

A screenshot from the new ISIS music video

A screen­shot from the new ISIS music video

Addressed “to the ene­mies of Allah,” the video’s nar­ra­tion states that “this is a mes­sage and more are going to fol­low.” The video por­trays a man read­ing the Qu’ran and watch­ing ISIS pro­pa­ganda on his com­puter, includ­ing graphic videos of behead­ings, the burn­ing of the Jor­dan­ian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, mass killings, and wounded sol­diers. “We want your blood,” it states, “it tastes so wonderful.”

It then shows indi­vid­u­als prepar­ing for dif­fer­ent types of domes­tic attacks, includ­ing a stab­bing, car bomb, and a sui­cide bomb­ing in Times Square, as well as learn­ing about gun use and bomb-making online – seem­ingly exam­ples for would-be domes­tic attack­ers and an acknowl­edg­ment of the impor­tance of online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda. Images of pre­vi­ous attacks against the West, includ­ing the attack against the Paris kosher super­mar­ket, are shown as well. “In France it has been proven by deeds. Ger­man sleeper cell are wait­ing,” it states. “Allah has called you! … Your neigh­bor is a kaf­fir (apos­tate)… take a big knife and give him what he rightly deserves.”

The release of the videos comes as ISIS is los­ing ter­ri­tory and recruits in the Mid­dle East. Losses by ter­ror­ist groups have often cor­re­sponded with increased calls for attacks abroad, which do not require resource expen­di­ture by the ter­ror group itself and can then be claimed as vic­to­ries for the group. Al Shabaab, for exam­ple, has sim­i­larly released calls for domes­tic attacks abroad in the past year as it under­goes losses of recruits, lead­er­ship, and ter­ri­tory in Soma­lia and its sur­round­ing countries.

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March 27, 2015 1

9 People Linked To Islamic Extremism Cases In Illinois Since 2012

Hasan Edmonds and Jonas Edmonds

Court sketch of Hasan and Jonas Edmonds

Hasan and Jonas Edmonds, arrested yes­ter­day for con­spir­ing to travel abroad to join the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and orches­trate an attack in the U.S., are the 8th and 9th peo­ple from Illi­nois linked to Islamic extrem­ist activ­ity since 2012.

Hasan Edmonds, a 22-year-old con­vert to Islam and a mem­ber of the National Guard, and his cousin, 29-year-old Jonas (Yunus) Edmonds told under­cover inves­ti­ga­tors that they wanted to travel to ISIS-controlled ter­ri­tory with their fam­i­lies and become fight­ers but that, fail­ing that, they wanted to attack the U.S. When Jonas Edmonds was unable to acquire a pass­port because of a past felony con­vic­tion, Hasan Edmonds con­tin­ued his own travel plans while assist­ing Jonas in get­ting mate­ri­als for and plan­ning an attack on the mil­i­tary base where Hasan trained.

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Hasan posted pro-ISIS state­ments and YouTube videos on his Face­book pro­file. He and Jonas were also vocal about their plans and beliefs in con­ver­sa­tions with an under­cover agent whom they met online. “Hon­estly we would love to do some­thing like the brother in Paris did,” wrote Hasan Edmonds, in a ref­er­ence to the attacks on the Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine and kosher gro­cery store in Paris this Jan­u­ary. “Hit here and then go to dawlah (ISIS con­trolled ter­ri­tory) inshaAl­lah (God will­ing). We’ll fight wher­ever need be…. Sha­hada (mar­tyr­dom) is a bless­ing.” In other con­ver­sa­tions, he stated, “If I find myself stuck here [in the U.S.]. I intend to take advan­tage of being so close to the kuf­far (apos­tates, used here to indi­cate non-Muslims),” and, “The best of mankind are the mujahideen (fight­ers). May Allah place me among their ranks.”

In speak­ing of plan­ning an attack, he wrote, “We can surely do some­thing. Even the kaf­firs (apos­tates) here are fight­ing the police and gov­ern­ment so we can really strick (sic) harder in tue (sic) cause of Allah,” and, “It would be hard to pull off a lager (sic) scale attack on the gov­ern­ment but police sta­tions and courts are pretty easy and its been done before by kufar (apos­tates) some­times just one person.”

The cousins’ state­ments also attest to the effec­tive­ness of ISIS’s recent strat­egy of devel­op­ing world­wide fran­chises. “When the women are under the pro­tec­tion of the dawlah (ISIS) under any province under the dawlahs rule (any coun­try) we are ready for what­ever our orders may be,” Hasan Edmonds told an under­cover agent accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. In another con­text he allegedly stated, “I am fine being in Egypt, Sham, or Libya to be hon­est akhi (brother, mean­ing com­pan­ion). I just want to answer the call.”

Groups includ­ing Ansar Beyt al Maqdis in Egypt and Boko Haram in Nige­ria have pledged alle­giance to ISIS in recent months, and ISIS strives to cre­ate the impres­sion that it has a global pres­ence in its propaganda.

ISIS has also been encour­ag­ing its adher­ents to either under­take domes­tic attacks or travel abroad in recent months.

This mes­sage has been reflected in the actions of its sup­port­ers. In 2015, the Edmonds plot is the third instance of ISIS sup­port­ers in the U.S. plan­ning a domes­tic attack after unsuc­cess­fully attempt­ing to join ISIS. In Jan­u­ary, Ohio res­i­dent Christo­pher Lee Cor­nell was arrested for his plot to attack the U.S. capi­tol after fail­ing to con­nect with ISIS mem­bers abroad and in Feb­ru­ary, New York City res­i­dents Abdura­sul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhme­tov were arrested for attempt­ing to join ISIS and dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­ity of a domes­tic attack if they were unable to do so. In addi­tion, 2015 has seen 13 U.S. res­i­dents (includ­ing the Edmonds cousins) charged with mate­r­ial sup­port for ISIS.

33 U.S. res­i­dents have been pub­licly linked to ISIS since 2014.

Other Illi­nois res­i­dents accused of attempt­ing to aid for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions or carry out ter­ror attacks in the U.S.  include Jamishid Muh­torov, arrested in 2012 for pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to the Chechen ter­ror group Islamic Jihad Union; Abdel Daoud, arrested in 2012 for plan­ning a domes­tic attack; Abdel­lah Tounisi, arrested in 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra; Mohammed Hamza Khan and his brother and sis­ter, detained in 2014 for attempted to join ISIS (Khan’s brother and sis­ter are minors and have not been charged); and Mediha Medy Sal­kice­vic and Jas­minka Ramic, arrested in 2015 for attempt­ing to send money to ISIS.

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March 18, 2015 2

NJ Man Arrested For Trying to Join ISIS Espoused Anti-Semitism Online

Tairod Pugh

Tairod Pugh

A New Jer­sey man, indicted yes­ter­day for attempt­ing to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), marks the 12th U.S. res­i­dent charged with sup­port­ing or join­ing Islamic extrem­ism this year and demon­strates the pres­ence of anti-Semitism and role of online pro­pa­ganda in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process.

Tairod Nathan Web­ster Pugh is a U.S. cit­i­zen and for­mer air force mechanic from Nep­tune, NJ. He allegedly attempted to travel to join ISIS in Jan­u­ary but was detained and sent back to the U.S. by Egypt­ian offi­cials. Pugh was arrested on Jan­u­ary 16, 2015, upon his return to the U.S., but the charges were made pub­lic fol­low­ing yesterday’s indictment.

Pugh’s Face­book pro­file included mul­ti­ple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts sup­port­ing Hamas.

In July 2014, Pugh wrote a post that stated, in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within them­selves. On the day of Judg­ment full respon­si­bil­ity of the starv­ing, tor­ture, jail­ing and killing of inno­cent Mus­lims will rest upon there (sic) shoul­ders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang them­selves,” and posted an image with text stat­ing, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.” In August 2014, he shared an image that ref­er­enced blood libel accu­sa­tions, depict­ing Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu slit­ting the throats of sleep­ing children.

Pugh also posted sev­eral car­toons equat­ing Jews, Israel or Zion­ists to Nazis, as well as mul­ti­ple images claim­ing to depict Israeli war crimes.

An anti-Semitic post on Tairod Pugh's Facebook page.

An anti-Semitic post on Tairod Pugh’s Face­book page.

Although Pugh did not pub­licly post his sup­port for ISIS, he did share a quote by ter­ror pro­pa­gan­dist Anwar al-Awlaki in August 2014. Awlaki is fre­quently cited as an inspi­ra­tion for extrem­ism by Amer­i­cans who have been linked to terrorism.

Pugh allegedly also used his com­puter to research join­ing ISIS and watch ISIS pro­pa­ganda videos. An inves­ti­ga­tion report­edly found that he had used the inter­net to search for the terms, “bor­ders con­trolled by Islamic state,” “who con­trols kobani (a city that has been con­tested by ISIS),” “kobani bor­der cross­ing,” and “jarablus bor­der cross­ing,” and the feature-film length ter­ror pro­pa­ganda video “Flames of War,” which depicts and apoc­a­lyp­tic strug­gle between ISIS and the West. He had also allegedly viewed a chart of cross­ing points between Turkey and Syria and had down­loaded at least one ISIS exe­cu­tion video, along with other ISIS videos.

Addi­tional Face­book posts by Pugh demon­strated anti-U.S. sen­ti­ment. One post from August 2014, taken from Iran­ian con­trolled media out­let Press TV, depicted pro­test­ers burn­ing an effigy of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. A post ear­lier that month included an arti­cle that Pugh wrote describ­ing “the rape of a Mus­lim woman by the Amer­i­can forces.” Accord­ing to media reports, some Face­book posts not pub­licly avail­able also expressed Pugh’s desire to never return to the U.S.

Pugh also shared images prais­ing the ter­ror group Hamas. In August 2014, he shared an appar­ent image of Hamas mil­i­tants “returned safely after 21 days of siege.” In July 2014, he shared a photo of Hamas mil­i­tants with the cap­tion, “Thank you! You make us proud …”

The 12 U.S. res­i­dents charged with Islamic extrem­ism related ter­ror offenses this year have been arrested in 7 dif­fer­ent states includ­ing New Jer­sey, New York, Illi­nois, Ohio, Vir­ginia, Indi­ana and Mis­souri. Pugh is also the 31st Amer­i­can res­i­dent pub­licly linked to ISIS since 2014.

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